Limited Food Options in Roxbury

Written by Stephanie Pagones

By Stephanie Pagones
BU News Service

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The cost of milk is the same at Walgreens Pharmacy as it is at Save-A-Lot.

Roxbury is home to inexpensive groceries, but gaining access to fresh or organic options can be a challenge unless a shopper is willing to spend extra money or travel elsewhere.

Roxbury has one of the highest unemployment rates in the city; excluding the seasonal harbor islands, Roxbury’s unemployment rate is second highest at 16.8 percent, following Mattapan at 17.3 percent, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s “Unemployment in Boston.”

This means that for many residents, low cost food is essential.  The local grocery store, Save-A-Lot, located on Warren Street, has low prices but does not have as many fresh food options as more expensive stores in nearby neighborhoods.

“I work at Save-A-Lot, I’ve been here a year now and a month…At Save-A-Lot, I noticed they (prices) differ from time to time,” said Xzavier Middleton, 18. “Mostly [the cost of bread and milk and apples] range from low prices, from five [dollars] to like ten [dollars]. Bread is probably like $1 to $3, milk would be $2.”

Save-A-Lot sells 3-pound bags of apples for between $1.99 and $3.99, depending on the variety of apples. A gallon of milk costs $2.99, and a loaf of bread can be bought for as low as 99 cents. Roxbury is also home to two other ethnic markets, KABA African Market and Merkato.
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Warren Street in Roxbury.

Joel Francisco, 57, of Roxbury, said he typically relies on his family to do the grocery shopping. While they do shop at Save-A-Lot, they often travel outside the neighborhood for other options.

“We do shop in the immediate area, we do shop at Save-A-Lot sometimes. Basically, we shop at all different places, including BJ’s, Roxy’s up in Quincy, BJ’s out there in Dedham, there’s a Price Right in what would be considered Hyde Park. And we shop here.”

As another Roxbury resident, Mildred, who would not disclose her last name, said  some food items are cheaper elsewhere, often causing her to leave Roxbury for other grocery stores. “I’ve been around here for 48 years,” she said. “I can honestly say, some supermarkets, their prices fluctuate from store to store.”

A gallon of milk in Roxbury could cost up to $3.69, whereas in Roslindale a gallon is $2.69, she explained.

“That’s a hell of a difference,” she said.

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